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  • The Art Of Polychords

    by Jermaine Griggs · 8 comments

    in Chords & Progressions

    If you’ve ever wondered how master musicians execute and remember large, extended chord voicings, understanding polychords will be especially helpful for you.

    A polychord is simply a big chord made up of smaller ones.

    For example, C minor 11 is:

    By all means, this would be considered a “big” chord. But do you really have to remember each note individually?

    Not at all.

    How many small chords do you see in this C minor 11 chord?

    I see a C minor triad:

    I see an Eb major triad:

    I see a G minor triad:

    I see a Bb major triad:

    I see an Eb major 7 chord:

    I see a G minor 7 chord:

    In GospelKeys Urban Pro 600, Jonathan Powell shows his formula to playing “phat” minor 11 chords. If he were voicing this same chord, he’d put Eb major 7 in his left hand (assuming a bass player already took care of the “C”). He’d then put Bb major in the right hand.

    Sometimes, he inverts the Eb major 7 chord so that the notes are arranged like this:

    Looking at this from a “number system” perspective, that would be: b3 major 7 + b7 major.

    Note: In the key of C major, Eb is the b3 (flatted third) and Bb is the b7 (flatted seventh).

    So the next time you see a big, “monster” chord, don’t be intimidated. Instead, look for the smaller chords within it, create your own formula like the one above, make a mental note, and practice it regularly to commit it to memory.

    And there you have it! Short and sweet.

    Until next time -

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    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

    Related posts:

    1. Now you can play big chords without having to memorize anything
    2. The “Polychord” Game: How Many Chords Can You Spot?
    3. The Power Of Using Superimposed Chords
    4. Do you know the formula?
    5. Yet another way to spice up your chords without knowing anything new
    6. What everybody ought to know about ninth chords
    7. What every musician should know about “chord stacking”…



    { 8 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Felicia Rogan

    Hi Jermaine,
    As a matter of fact, I already have the “Urban Pro 600. Just the other day I was
    enjoying hearing all of the pretty chords Jonathan was playing. I started writing
    them down and have started to practice them.
    I want you to know that I appreciate you for all of the wonderful products that you
    have available for those of us who are trying to master chords.
    Keep doing what you do and God bless you.
    Felicia Rogan

    Reply

    2 kelly

    Hi JermAine, I love it when you send us these informational pieces. I have gone back to college also to learn to read music now. In my theory class alot of these young students are lost. I am always so impressed by you and thankful that I try to pay the gift forward. Recently, I tried to suggest to students your sight and the plethura of information there. I think because it was free so much of It, that the students underestimated the value. After out exam , they keep coming to me with all these questions during class and interrupting my learning while teacher was lecturing. I had to tell them I would love to help you and in fact, gave you a link to all your questions,, sand told them to come back to me after they do for themselves first. My instinct is to jump in and help however, they have to want it to. I told them you take a step and go to this Web site with your free videos and then ,one back with your questions. I know your valuable info works because I am leaps and bound ahead of many others. So God bless you. I have purchased almost every th img you have to offer because your educational stuff is that good

    Reply

    3 Jorge

    Hi Jermaine, it is good to know that H&P Blog is back! I am following HearandPlay for more than ten years now (in fact almost since the begining…) and I must say that my piano playing and general music understanding changed a lot since then. My 5 years old little daughter is now having piano lessons as well!

    God bless!

    Jorge

    Reply

    4 Joseph

    Jermaine,
    That’s wonderful stuff please continue sharing these ideas and make music learning easy.

    Reply

    5 connie

    again, i know the simple chords, minor, then towards the end it gets complicated. why is that?

    Reply

    6 Bernard

    Thank you for showing how simple big chords can be. You take the fear out of playing worship music for me. Thanks

    Reply

    7 khutso

    I am from south africa. And I am gratefull that my piano skill is growing jst from information from your website. Continue the good work

    Reply

    8 Rume onojoserio

    Fanx briggs.. You ve been a blessing to all.. I jst wish i culd get you lessons here in Nigeria

    Reply

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